Young people in Barbados are being placed at the centre of their development under Government???s new ???youth-centric developmental paradigm???.

Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, made this assertion recently, when he delivered the feature address at the Sub-Regional Developmental Agenda on Youth Meeting and the Launch of the State of the World Population Report 2014 at UN House.

???This is the approach that the Government of Barbados has taken in relation to the development of our young people, as the country has embarked on fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals.

“In this approach, we see youth development as central to national development, in which our youth are valued as contributors to economic growth and social advancement rather than as problems to be solved,??? Mr. Lashley said.

He noted that the Division of Youth in his Ministry had been ???realigned??? so that young people could partake in social development programmes that promote nation building. This, he said, was designed to encourage participation, empowerment and inclusion of youth in all levels of decision-making.

???As a significant demographic, young people have the energy, creativity and innovation required to transform our society. It is therefore our duty to mould their development and ensure sustainability of our society by being pro-active in creating enabling and participatory environments from which future leaders can emerge and young people realise their aspirations,??? he pointed out.

Mr. Lashley explained that the new paradigm was guided by the National Youth Policy of Barbados, which he said represents Government???s framework to provide ???enlightened social policy provisions to address the needs of young people???.

He continued: ???The process of developing the National Youth Policy was revolutionary in that it represented a paradigm shift from traditional approaches of exclusion of young people to an inclusive one, where the confidence, creativity and independence of young people contributed to the change agenda for personal, community and national development.???

The Youth Minister explained that nine inter-related issues were identified as central to the discussion on young people???s development: employment, education, the family, core values, gangs, housing, lifestyle diseases, political participation and the environment.

He added that strategies to address these issues were being pursued through programmes offered by the Division of Youth, which include the Barbados Youth Service, the Youth Development Programme, the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme, the Youth Mainstreaming Programme, the National Summer Camp Programme, Endless Possibilities ??? A Job Mentorship and Attachment Programme, Digital Media Film Programme and National Youth Parliament.

Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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